Sherri West

I create contemporary basketry sculptural forms by combining traditional weaving techniques with not-so-traditional materials and patience. I like to think that what I do respects the natural environment as well as honoring basket makers and what has historically been considered traditional “women’s work.”

I found my way to basketry while studying for a BFA in Art Education at the University of Arizona in the 1970’s, instantly loving the feel of making “something from nothing” with my hands and a few simple materials.  I was in awe of the Native American baskets where I grew up in the southwest, and I became a collector. This inspired me to learn traditional basketry techniques and develop craftsmanship that I could be proud of.

Today I invite people to pick up my baskets and cradle them in their hands.  The packed waxed linen forms can still have the feel and presence of hardened clay pottery, another inspiration from my days in the desert southwest.

Through the years, my travels, and the several moves that I’ve made across the country, I have learned about other regional basketry traditions and materials in diverse environments. At the same time, my own weaving has evolved from the traditional to the more sculptural.  I continue to enjoy exploring local gathered materials available to me here in Santa Barbara while innovating and stretching the limits of the techniques and materials to shape sculptural forms and to tell a story.

Currently, I find myself drawn to tell the more recent stories of our times. I’ve tried to translate my thoughts and feelings about months of living through Covid, our culture’s political and social unrest, and witnessing the unmistakable signs from our increasingly warming planet.  It is with gratitude that I live in Santa Barbara within close access to nature and where its healing power has surely helped me to survive these stressful and uncertain times.

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